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  #1  
Old Posted May 28, 2017, 12:56 AM
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Pittsburgh's Detroit: Homewood

I haven't done a thread like this in a while, just focusing on one neighborhood but today I spent a few hours photographing Pittsburgh's Homewood neighborhood.

Homewood in the beginning held mainly estates for the wealthy; Homewood was also the Pittsburgh residence of industrialists Andrew Carnegie and Thomas M. Carnegie until the late 1880s. Starting in the 1910s, Irish, Italian, German, and upper middle class black families started moving into Homewood due to the low-cost of housing. During the 1950's blacks from Pittsburgh Hill District started moving into the neighborhood after their neighborhood in the Hill was destroyed by urban renewal. Home values in the neighborhood are the lowest in Pittsburgh. The average home price in the neighborhood is only 9k. The median household income is only about 17k a year and has the highest amount of vacant properties in the city.

87e0bddc724bb6326b9bf8b9c4979c8b by photolitherland, on Flickr
Homewood is on the Eastside of the city on this map.

AF5_4519 by photolitherland, on Flickr

AF5_4435 by photolitherland, on Flickr

AF5_4584 by photolitherland, on Flickr

AF5_4370 by photolitherland, on Flickr

AF5_4575 by photolitherland, on Flickr

AF5_4569 by photolitherland, on Flickr

AF5_4566 by photolitherland, on Flickr

AF5_4553 by photolitherland, on Flickr

AF5_4551 by photolitherland, on Flickr

AF5_4548 by photolitherland, on Flickr

AF5_4546 by photolitherland, on Flickr

AF5_4526 by photolitherland, on Flickr

AF5_4521 by photolitherland, on Flickr

AF5_4507 by photolitherland, on Flickr

AF5_4504 by photolitherland, on Flickr

AF5_4317 by photolitherland, on Flickr

AF5_4501 by photolitherland, on Flickr

AF5_4496 by photolitherland, on Flickr

AF5_4492 by photolitherland, on Flickr

AF5_4489 by photolitherland, on Flickr

AF5_4488 by photolitherland, on Flickr

AF5_4483 by photolitherland, on Flickr

AF5_4481 by photolitherland, on Flickr

AF5_4479 by photolitherland, on Flickr

AF5_4472 by photolitherland, on Flickr

AF5_4470 by photolitherland, on Flickr

AF5_4468 by photolitherland, on Flickr

AF5_4463 by photolitherland, on Flickr

AF5_4461 by photolitherland, on Flickr

AF5_4456 by photolitherland, on Flickr

AF5_4454 by photolitherland, on Flickr

AF5_4450 by photolitherland, on Flickr

AF5_4444 by photolitherland, on Flickr

AF5_4442 by photolitherland, on Flickr

AF5_4437 by photolitherland, on Flickr

AF5_4432 by photolitherland, on Flickr

AF5_4430 by photolitherland, on Flickr

AF5_4425 by photolitherland, on Flickr

AF5_4422 by photolitherland, on Flickr

AF5_4421 by photolitherland, on Flickr

AF5_4403 by photolitherland, on Flickr

AF5_4412 by photolitherland, on Flickr

AF5_4401 by photolitherland, on Flickr

AF5_4397 by photolitherland, on Flickr

AF5_4396 by photolitherland, on Flickr

AF5_4394 by photolitherland, on Flickr

AF5_4391 by photolitherland, on Flickr

AF5_4390 by photolitherland, on Flickr

AF5_4389 by photolitherland, on Flickr

AF5_4383 by photolitherland, on Flickr

AF5_4379 by photolitherland, on Flickr

AF5_4373 by photolitherland, on Flickr

AF5_4362 by photolitherland, on Flickr

AF5_4360 by photolitherland, on Flickr

AF5_4357 by photolitherland, on Flickr

AF5_4354 by photolitherland, on Flickr

AF5_4353 by photolitherland, on Flickr

AF5_4351 by photolitherland, on Flickr

AF5_4349 by photolitherland, on Flickr

AF5_4348 by photolitherland, on Flickr

AF5_4346 by photolitherland, on Flickr

AF5_4341 by photolitherland, on Flickr

AF5_4338 by photolitherland, on Flickr

AF5_4333 by photolitherland, on Flickr

AF5_4331 by photolitherland, on Flickr

AF5_4329 by photolitherland, on Flickr

AF5_4328 by photolitherland, on Flickr

AF5_4326 by photolitherland, on Flickr

AF5_4322 by photolitherland, on Flickr

AF5_4315 by photolitherland, on Flickr
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Last edited by photoLith; May 28, 2017 at 1:33 AM.
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  #2  
Old Posted May 28, 2017, 1:23 AM
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Quote:
This is beautiful. Was the front door just open?
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Old Posted May 28, 2017, 1:31 AM
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This is beautiful. Was the front door just open?
Someone had smashed the glass and opened it. At first I was pretty nervous being in there as I thought someone might still be living in it. Looks like the house was recently abandoned and still had all the furniture and photos inside of it. In a couple weeks probably if nobody boards it up it will be completely torn apart inside.
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Old Posted May 28, 2017, 1:52 AM
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Interesting title, lmfao.

Those homes are drop dead gorgeous though, my god. The city better save them for revitalization, they're an asset.

There's something about old rustbelt homes like this that really captivate me, they're a bit different than the Northeast coast, there's a unique grandeur to them. They're drenched in personality and character, almost like living beings.
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Old Posted May 28, 2017, 2:29 AM
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I agree...beautiful architecture. I have to wonder if many of these homes are just too far gone to ever be rehabilitated. Some probably could be, though.

Chris, have you found any pics of this area at its height?
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Old Posted May 28, 2017, 2:53 AM
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Nice work, We don't get to see this area too much.
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Old Posted May 28, 2017, 2:43 PM
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Originally Posted by The North One View Post
Interesting title, lmfao.

Those homes are drop dead gorgeous though, my god. The city better save them for revitalization, they're an asset.

There's something about old rustbelt homes like this that really captivate me, they're a bit different than the Northeast coast, there's a unique grandeur to them. They're drenched in personality and character, almost like living beings.
Now someone in Detroit just needs to make a photo thread titled "Detroit's Homewood: the Eastside Neighborhood"
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Old Posted May 29, 2017, 1:29 AM
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On citydata, I've been doing short writeups of neighborhoods each week now for awhile. Homewood was two weeks ago. Here's what I wrote...

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Originally Posted by eschaton View Post
Homewood is a neighborhood in the Upper East End of Pittsburgh. The earliest settlement in the neighborhood was in 1832 by Judge William Wilkins, but through most of the mid and late 19th century the neighborhood was fairly rural and sparsely settled, with a few small frame-dominated blocks even somewhat built out. These houses are good examples of Homewood's earliest architectural age, and according to some accounts had a black community even by the 1860s. The name Homewood during this era was used in a broader sense than today, mostly associated with the great estates of the well-to-do of Pittsburgh (including the Carnegie, Frick, Heinz, and Westinghouse families), in what would now be considered to be Point Breeze/Point Breeze North.

Homewood in the modern sense however was almost totally built out in the period between 1890 and 1910 as a dense, but relatively classic, streetcar suburban neighborhood. The neighborhood had a wide variety of affordable housing options for burgeoning middle classes of Pittsburgh, from blocks full of small brick rowhouses to more scaled-down versions of the omnipresent East End foursquare style. The neighborhood during this period attracted Irish, Italian, and German residents, along with a strong middle-class black community, which began relocating from the Hill District. Homewood during the early part of the 20th century was well integrated, and reported good racial relations, with roughly 31,000 people in 1940.

Things began to go downhill for the neighborhood in the 1950s in a rapid fashion. The city's construction of the Civic Arena in the lower hill displaced some 8,000 people. The lower-income black proportion of this displacement ended up moving to many areas of the city which went downhill, including Beltzhoover, parts of the North Side, Garfield, and East Liberty. But it particularly moved to Homewood. Between 1950 and 1960, Homewood went from 22% black to 66% black. The extent to which this initial rise was due to white flight is sometimes exaggerated - modern-day Homewood South grew by 10,000 people that decade, but the white population did start to leave in large numbers, first moving out of the city to Wilkinsburg and Penn Hills, although today many are as far east as Plum and Murrysville. This was hastened by riots in 1968 after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. (which also partially trashed the business district, albeit not to the same degree as in the Hill District). Then in the 1970s there was the rise of gang violence, and in the 1980s the crack epidemic and widespread demolition of historic housing stock. In 2010, the neighborhood population was down to 6,400, and still falling rapidly. Up until very recently, it looked as though the neighborhood might never really "hit bottom" and start to recover.

That's the neighborhood as it was, now let's bring it to the present.

Homewood South was historically the more working class portion of the neighborhood. Before the neighborhood was trashed by riots and blight, it was dominated by a mixture of modest frame housing and industrial-scale rowhouses where a whole block was built out at one time. Many have been lost to blight, but one intact block (minus missing porches) remains as rental housing on Hamilton Avenue, giving a hint of what the area looked like in its prime. This area fell the hardest out of any part of Homewood in terms of blight, with some of the abandoned rows (like the now-demolished Formosa Way row) notorious drug houses. At the same time, the area has experienced significant reinvestment over the last 5-10 years, due to the combination of lots of available land and convenient access to downtown via the East Busway. New infill houses have been built on Finance Street, Susquehanna Street, and senior apartments on Homewood Avenue (where a coffeeshop has also now been located). There are literally dozens of new homes being constructed right now in the area south of Hamilton between Zenith Way and N Richland. Obviously at this point all of this is subsidized construction, but it's a great sign for a neighborhood that had still been losing 20%-35% of its population every single year. Crime is also slightly down in Homewood South compared to the past, at least relative

Homewood North had historically been the "nice" side of Homewood. The streets north of Frankstown, like Idlewild, Race, Montecello, and Hermitage, were built out for middle-class homeowners. There's not a single intact block left, but many of the blocks have most of their homes left, which give you a taste of what the neighborhood looked like in the past. Basically a dense, slightly scaled-down version of Friendship or Highland Park. This is only one part Homewood North however - the neighborhood also includes the Housing Authority project of the same name (which is largely isolated on a hillside) and some very rural/backwoodsy areas to the far east of the neighborhood. The latter look more blighted than they are - they actually began going downhill before they ever got finished getting built out. While up until around a decade ago Homewood North was a nicer area with (relatively) lower crime, crime in Homewood North has now surpassed crime in Homewood South. This area doesn't really have any near-term hope. It needs new homeowner occupants willing to put sweat equity into fixing up the turn-of-the century homes, but the market would need to improve considerably for that to happen.

Homewood West was always a more mixed-use area, and has been heavily affected by blight (there are totally vacant blocks by Westinghouse Academy). As of 2010 only around 800 people lived there. It really lacks a distinct identity of its own, because segments of it are more contiguous with Larimer and Lincoln-Lemington-Belmar. There actually is a bit of commercial activity along Hamilton, between the Wheel Mill (an indoor cycling place) and the new and relocated Humane Animal Rescue (former Animal Rescue League) campus.

One thing which is likely surprising to people who don't spend much time at least driving through Homewood (which would be the vast majority of white people in Pittsburgh) is considering the levels of blight in the neighborhood it's still fairly walkable with a fair amount of commercial ventures. Homewood South, West, and North respectively are given walkscores of 67, 64, and 58 - meaning they're considered about as walkable as Highland Park, Mount Washington, or Polish Hill. Obviously it's only a shadow of what it once was, but Homewood still has bars, convenience stores, barbershops, hair salons, at least two BBQ places, salons, a hardware store, a PNC bank, a record shop, a dry cleaner, a bakery, etc. No one would call it vibrant, but it's far from the perceived blighted empty hellscape that it is sometimes made out to be.
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Old Posted May 29, 2017, 1:36 AM
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Those homes are drop dead gorgeous though, my god. The city better save them for revitalization, they're an asset.
While the houses are indeed beautiful, and it is a shame they are going to rot, the "grand brick foursquare" housing style is ridiculously common in Pittsburgh - occurring basically anywhere upper-middle class people lived between 1895 and 1915 (which is a lot of places given the population of the city at the time). The entry stairwell of my own house looks very similar to the recently abandoned one shown above.

Unfortunately, as I alluded to in my own post on Homewood, the nice house section of the neighborhood is pretty far to the north from where infill is now taking place, which is closer to the BRT line in the southern portions of the neighborhoods. I don't think these houses have much of a prayer unless they can survive at least another 20 years of neglect.
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Old Posted May 29, 2017, 4:29 AM
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My Grandma worked for Westinghouse in both Homewood and Buffalo. After Homewood closed she moved to Eggert Rd Buffalo.
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Old Posted May 29, 2017, 2:11 PM
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How does that nice looking of a neighbourhood get that abandoned???
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Old Posted May 29, 2017, 3:16 PM
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Beautiful and heartbreaking.
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Old Posted May 29, 2017, 3:29 PM
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How does that nice looking of a neighbourhood get that abandoned???
Massive white flight from the mid 1950s through 1990
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Old Posted May 29, 2017, 4:09 PM
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wow.. had no idea. nice set.
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Old Posted May 29, 2017, 9:39 PM
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Originally Posted by eschaton View Post
Massive white flight from the mid 1950s through 1990
That and the neighborhood is sort of cut off due to the Busway.
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Old Posted May 30, 2017, 1:08 AM
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That and the neighborhood is sort of cut off due to the Busway.
Before the East Busway existed, the rail line was still there, blocking pedestrian connections between Homewood and Point Breeze. Hell, the railroad line is literally older than the neighborhood itself. It didn't have much to do with why the neighborhood declined, but it did provide a natural "break" which stopped Point Breeze North (which did see some white flight) from turning into a full-on ghetto, and it's also meant that the slow-motion gentrification of that area has really not affected Homewood at all.
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Old Posted May 30, 2017, 3:50 PM
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Very handsome structures! Love the interior of that house. Any signs of investment?

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Originally Posted by eschaton View Post
Massive white flight from the mid 1950s through 1990
White flight did not typically cause abandonment. Vacancies left by middle class whites were filled quickly by African Americans who had newly opened residential opportunities when race restrictive covenants were ruled unconstitutional. Abandonment seemed to come across many eastern cities around the 80s with the rise of the crack epidemic and subsequent black flight. That's a macro picture, through. I'm not sure about this neighborhood in particular
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Old Posted May 30, 2017, 3:54 PM
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^
That and large scale depopulation of rust-belt cities, the city has lost half of its population since 1950.
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Old Posted May 30, 2017, 4:04 PM
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White flight did not typically cause abandonment. Vacancies left by middle class whites were filled quickly by African Americans who had newly opened residential opportunities when race restrictive covenants were ruled unconstitutional. Abandonment seemed to come across many eastern cities around the 80s with the rise of the crack epidemic and subsequent black flight. That's a macro picture, through. I'm not sure about this neighborhood in particular
The northern and western portions of Homewood basically had continual population decline from 1940 onward, with the highest levels of decline not happening during the 1980s. Homewood South did have a huge influx of residents related to the demolition of the Lower Hill, jumping from 12,000+ in 1950 o 22,000+ in 1960, but then it fell again down to under 8,000 by 1970.

Something important to realize is the white flight of Homewood did not happen in isolation. The adjacent, more suburban neighborhoods of Lincoln-Lemington-Belmar and East Hills also emptied out of white residents. Black middle-class families decamped from Homewood into those areas soon after Homewood went downhill, and they maintain a bit more of a black middle-class presence even today. The white flight even spread outside of city limits, taking in most of the streetcar suburb of Wilkinsburg and the closer parts of the postwar suburb Penn Hills. So basically a "wave pattern" formed, where there was a ring of fleeing white households, then a wave of middle-class blacks, followed by the remaining core of impoverished black families.
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Old Posted Jun 3, 2017, 2:31 AM
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Nice tour. Homewood has some great potential, although a lot of it seems to have been torn down (like porches).
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